Man sets fire to a COVID-19 testing center in Hong Kong

Christy Leung, South China Morning Post

Posted at Feb 13 2022 08:15 AM

A man was subdued after he allegedly set a bin on fire at Sun Chui Estate testing center in Tai Wai, Hong Kong. Photo: Facebook
A man was subdued after he allegedly set a bin on fire at Sun Chui Estate testing center in Tai Wai, Hong Kong. Photo: Facebook

Police have arrested a man who allegedly set fire to a bin at a Covid-19 testing site at a public housing estate in northern Hong Kong to express his disappointment with the service.

Officers received a report at 4.45pm on Saturday about the fire being set at the screening area located on a soccer pitch at Sun Chui Estate in Tai Wai, New Territories. Pictures and videos circulating online showed items inside the black bin burning and three staff members subduing a man while others helped put out the flames.

Acting superintendent Chan Ka-ying from the Crime New Territories South Regional Headquarters said the 27-year-old suspect, who had a record of mental illness, set the bin on fire and brought it to the centre via a back door.

"The staff there shouted at the man and attempted to stop him. But the suspect ignored them and sprayed deodorant at the bin, which worsened the fire," Chan said, adding the employees had subdued the man and extinguished the fire using bottles of water. "We believed the man was upset with the arrangement of the testing centre, so he hoped to create chaos to express his dissatisfaction."

The suspect was arrested for arson and possession of offensive weapons, after officers found two lighters and a 15cm-long box cutter on him. The force believed he acted alone.

No one was injured and an investigation was under way, a police spokeswoman said.

A force insider said the man allegedly shouted "Hong Kong people must resist" before he set the items on fire.

Lawmaker Dominic Lee Tsz-king of the pro-establishment New People's Party said he was notified of the incident and that staff at the estate had subdued the suspect.

"Regardless of his intention, no violent acts can be tolerated," Lee wrote on his Facebook page.

Two buildings, Sun Yuet House and Sun Wai House, were locked down last Saturday night after sewage samples tested positive for Covid-19.

On Wednesday night, a scuffle broke out between police officers and residents at the testing station after the residents, who had lined up for more than three hours, were asked to leave when screenings ended on time at 8pm.

Testing centre staff asked the residents to leave their information so they could go for testing the next day, but the angry residents refused to leave and asked for the centre to remain open. Officers and residents briefly clashed until order was restored.

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